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Beware of the DogHouse!

2009 March 22
by Kalyn Schofield

Over the weekend I found a clip that reminded me a lot of the Handmaid’s Gilead society but more….current with today’s society. It is titled “Beware of the DogHouse.” Please watch the clip before reading the rest of my post.

(Picture from

This is a clip done by JC Penny as an advertising gimmick. I think it has a lot of similarities to the Gilead society we’ve been reading. Some key traits I noticed throughout the clip were:

1.) Control – No longer do we see female suppression but male. Unlike Gilead the females have the control over who or who is not in the doghouse. One could compare this to the position the Handmaid’s play. The wife and their own biological clock is the ruler over when they will no longer be “useful” as Handmaiden’s. We also see in the doghouse how the men are subjected to trials. Similar to Gilead when Offred was being trained and the discussion of rape with the one Handmaid. They made he think that the rape was her own fault. Within this clip the all female judging panel replayed the specific incident that made the men be thrown into the Doghouse. One can guess that after repeated viewings of their misbehavior the men just like Offred will be completely different people.

2.) Restriction – Similar to Gilead we find the suppressed individual’s restricted. They are taken out of their old lives and thrusted into a new one. The things they previously took for granted or failed to notice are now a coveted treasure they desperately wish to get back. For Offred this comes in the form of magazines and hand lotion. For the men within this clip it’s home cooked meals, permission to enter the house again and their wife/girlfriend’s love and affection.

3.) Specific Jobs – The men in the doghouse are performing the task of laundry. This is typical thought of as a female role. There immediate drop in status has put them in a place where they must earn back the trust and devotion of their female partner. Showing them doing the laundry lets the viewer know they have less power and shows just how “bad” they have it. Since they must now perform tasks which were not originally assigned to them. The same goes for Offred as she is now solely valued for her reproductive skills. By having a baby the Handmaiden “proves” she is worthy of keeping around as her worth and status with other’s in the household and with other Handmaiden’s goes up. By being constantly raped throughout the book, the viewer sympathizes with Offred and we realize just how bad she has it.

4.) Mentor’s – Upon entry into the doghouse the main character is given a mentor to show him the error of his ways. Offred was also given a mentor to shape her into the person she is today. We can look at the people who made her a Handmaid or the other major female influences in her life such as her mother and her rebellious best friend. These mentors’s are there to help the character understand the new world they have been placed in. In this way the character can assess their place within the society. Notice how the man in the doghouse was neither the worst nor the best example of a man that needed to be in the doghouse? Because of the mentor he was able to establish his position and rank himself accordingly. He needed this information in order to think about what he needed to do in order to get out. The same thought applies to Offred as her position within the house and the specific’s that apply to her (She has a relationship with the Commander, her previous child’s whereabouts’, Nick) make her position drastically different from someone else’s.

It would be interesting to hear what everyone else thought about this clip!

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